Monotreme and marsupial reproduction and development (sexual differentiation, sex determination, embryo development)
I completed my Doctorate at the University of Melbourne, investigating how the uterus and the embryo communicate and interact to control the remarkable phenomenon that is embryonic diapause in the tammar wallaby – the ability of around 130 mammals to pause and restart their pregnancy. In 2012, I was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the University of Montreal, Canada with Professor Bruce Murphy investigating embryonic diapause in the mink and mouse, in particular how small potent molecules - polyamines – can control whether an embryo reactivates. Following this, in mid-2015, I moved to Ottawa, Canada to work with Professor Jay Baltz at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and University of Ottawa to investigate the signalling pathways activated in the early mouse embryo to control cell volume and the effect of perturbing methyl pool formation on subsequent embryo development. At the start of 2018, I moved to the School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne to work with Professor Marilyn Renfree and Professor Steve Johnston (University of Queensland) in conjunction with the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (Queensland, Australia), to investigate in detail for the first time the reproduction and development of the short-beaked echidna. My current research focuses on how sex is determined in the male versus the female echidna and the development of the male and female reproductive tract. I am also continuing to investigate embryonic diapause in the wallaby, in particular how the embryo stays alive and healthy during the long period of diapause arrest (up to 11 months in the wallaby).